Sterling Sports
Sterling Sports Report
Racing To Win Across Endurance Sports
Oct/Nov 2006 - Vol 1, Issue 6
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Welcome! Sterling Sports Group is a Professional Coaching Company focused on cycling and endurance sports. Our aim is to provide you with relevant training and racing information, athlete profiles and perspectives from across a broad spectrum. Please read on and enjoy...

I recently attended the Coaching Summit at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. This five day festival of coaching info was AWESOME! Needless to say I learned many great new things, and LUCKY get to hear about them in this newsletter! And to think some say I'm a nerd.....pashaw!

Sometimes this stuff can be intimidating..there are literally dozens of areas in which to specialize and learn. Fortunately, we dont have to be an "expert" in all of them, but we are exposed to the true experts and their cutting edge information. A few of the select topics from this years Coaching Summit included Communication, Endurance and Sprint Track Training, Explosive Weight Training, and of course a variety of talks on physiology and performance. Over the next few weeks I'll be writing summaries of the more interesting sessions and posting them on our website. For now here are a few of the more choice pieces of information...
Andy Pruitt - one of the foremost authorities in cycling biomechanics, gave an informative and comprehensive overview (albeit only 2.5 hours) of some of the more important considerations of a good bike fit.

Two of the more important, yet often overlooked, considerations to a good fit are the movement of the knee in the Z Plane, and the varus/valgus action of the foot relative to the pedal and knee. In short the Z Plane is the view of the knees movement arc as seen from the front. Correct alignment will have the knee/knee cap sitting neutral to the ankle during the entire range of motion. A small figure 8 pattern is usually the norm, but a more pronounced figure 8 pattern is also common. A good line-of-sight estimate is to have the ankle, knee and hip insertion point all sitting in alignment. As the knee tracks through the pedal stroke it shouldn't deviate from this alignment much at all.

Of course central to the tracking of the knee is the Varus/Valgus inclination of your foot. Varus deformity is a term for the inward angulation of the distal segment of a bone or joint, valgus is the opposite (thanks Wikipedia!) Does your knee tend to angle in on hard pedaling, remain neutral, or align slightly bow-legged? Ideally the foot is well supported at the metatarsals and doesn't collapse inwards (varus) or outwards (valgus). If it does you might consider the use of a shim or a custom footbed to help keep the foot in a neutral and efficient position. Power transfer will improve as will cycling efficiency. Now there is much more to this set up and process than what I've described here so don't take the law into your own hands, you take 'em to court...oh wait, wrong show! Find a qualified person* to assess your natural biomechanics and then use that information to set you up on the bike in as neutral a position as is feasible.

*We are pleased to offer both Z Plane and Varus/Valgus evaluation, in addition to the other critical components of a good fit as part of our PRO- FIT service. Further, we are committed to continually improving our educational development in this area and partnering with companies that expand our service offerings

Great, just what you wanted to hear! Now you can increase the total duration of your workout spent at those blisteringly hard workloads, lucky! While it is a common training strategy to break up the high intensity intervals into smaller segments with complete or nearly complete recovery between, a new approach to this interval format was presented by Dr. Stephen McGregor, from Eastern Michigan University

Dr. McGregor affirmed that when doing VO2 level workouts a motivated athlete can generally sustain (endure?) a steady state time of approximately 3 - 7 minutes, depending on fitness and mental drive. In addition subsequent efforts at this workload will begin to show either a decrease in duration or absolute power, so they quickly lose their effectiveness as a training tool.

Instead Dr. McGregor explained the numerous benefits of breaking the workload into smaller parts, AND increasing the demand during the recovery phase. In short he postulates that breaking your VO2 efforts into a series of 30s bouts at 100% of VO2max during the "ON" portion, and 70% VO2max during the recovery phase, allows the athlete to both increase the total time at VO2 level intensity, and maintain the appropriate work level for a longer period of time. From a training approach I would recommend that you condition your body to the workload by gradually increasing the volume of this training. For example start with only 2 - 4 minutes of 30s/30s intervals and add a minute or two each week. This allows the body to adapt and helps keep you from frying your brain and legs! Have fun with these!

Hydration and the effects of heat are often mentioned as an important considerations in the performance equation. We've all heard that if you don't stay on top of fluid intake and your core temperature that performance will suffer, but what exactly does that mean?

Dr. Lawrence Armstrong gave an informative and interesting look at the role hydration and core temperature play in sport. According to Dr. Armstrong a body weight loss of as little as 3% causes a reduction in endurance performance! That means if a 150lb athlete loses as little as 4.5lbs of body weight during training or competition it could make a huge difference. Now 4.5lbs may sound like a lot, but it's less than you would imagine. Most trained athletes are losing somewhere in the area of 1.5 - 3.0 quarts of sweat an hour! That's between 3 and 6 lbs of sweat loss each hour ("a pints a pound" is a common way to think of fluid weight - 2 pints to a quart). To get an idea of your personal sweat rate it is recommended that you weigh yourself before and after a "typcial" exericse bout or competition, add back any water that you ingested and divide that by the time of exercising (best to work in one hour increments...just makes the math easier, lol!). There are many factors that can affect sweat rate including the intensity and duration of exercise, the environmental heat and humidity, pre-competition hydration level, and evel recent sleep loss!

Another area of importance is your core temperature during training and competition. A typical athlete will have an exercising core temperature of around 39C/102F (remember your resting temp is ~37C/98.6F). Research has shown that the brain will voluntarily reduce force and work output when the core body temperature exceeds 40C/104F. That is a range of as little as 2% in core temperature between optimal and "overdone!" To help control this you need to be aware of ways to keep yourself cool at the CORE! This is important becuase cooling usually occurs at the periphery (skin) which actually promotes increased core temperature due to cardiovascular strain from the increased blood flow to the periphery (less blood for the muscles/core). A good heat acclimization program with your coach will help you manage these effects and maintain your performance

If you are not currently on a coaching program now is a good time to start (or restart)! We offer a variety of coaching options for athletes at every level. From the ease and simplicity of our pre built training plans to the private training sessions of our Gold and Sterling programs, each one is created with athletes in mind. In addition, If you are a member of one of our sponsored teams you'll enjoy a substantial discount as well. So do something productive for your cycling...Sign up for a Sterling Sports Group Program Today!


Matt McNamara
Sterling Sports Group

phone: 408.891.3462

Sterling Sports Group | 1640 Belleville Way | Sunnyvale | CA | 94087